Songwriter showcase and more at Cornerstone Sonoma

If you drive by Cornerstone Sonoma in Carneros on your way to or from Marin County and say to yourself, “hmmm, I should stop there sometime,” this weekend would be that time. Meadowcraft Wines, located in the Cornerstone Gardens have announced the beginning of their monthly songwriter series, “Songwriters in Sonoma,” tonight, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. in the tasting room with an appearance by three local singer-songwriters and sound provided by Gerard Serafini of Sonoma Valley Music.  “I’ve been looking forward to launching this music series which will also provide an opportunity to include music as a large part of our offerings at the tasting room. Cornerstone also offers an excellent outdoor space for summer concerts and picnics under the stars,” said owner/winemaker Tom Meadowcroft. Tonights show will feature Dawn Angelosante, Sean Carscadden and Jon Williams, who will perform in the round and take turns singing their original songs. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. For reservations and more info, call 934-4090. Saturday, Jan. 22, brings an encore performance from McCabe and Mrs. Miller and also on the bill is  Misner and Smith, who will be performing inside the Keating Wines tasting room in the gardens. This will be the seventh in a series of shows presented by house concert promoter Drew Pearce. McCabe & Mrs. Miller is collaboration between Victor Krummenacher of Camper Van Beethoven and Alison Faith Levy of the Sippy Cups and have finally realized their dream of writing and performing as a duo. The show last year was a sell out so reservations are strongly encouraged. For tickets and more info, call Drew Pearce at 415-706-3800.

There is a great combo of pickers and grinners tonight, Jan. 21, at Lokal Sonoma. Adam Traum, David Thom and Pat Campbell will be getting together to lay down some folk, bluegrass and country grooves, kicking off at 8 p.m.

The Rich Little Band will be playing an all-you-can-eat crab and pasta feed on Saurday, Jan. 22, in the activity center at the Presentation School. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.presentationschool.com.

Murphy’s Irish Pub has the folk rock sounds of the Cork Pullers tonight, Jan. 21, for an 8 p.m. show. Saturday, Jan. 22, brings Carolina Special for a night of traditional bluegrass, also at 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23, has Dave Aguilar and Peter McCauley for an early show that kicks off at 6 p.m. and they promise no Celtic music, although you may hear the Flintstones theme.

Steiners Tavern has a band out of Los Angeles tonight, Jan. 21. North Star Sessions will kick off at 10 p.m. with easy, modern rock. Saturday, Jan. 22, its time again for the DJ sounds from Sweet Lou. There is no cover for either show.

Gundlach Bundschu Winery brings in, from Syracuse NY, Ra Ra Riot for an evening performance in the amphitheater on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. Their latest release, “The Rhumb Line” garnered high praise from music magazines Pitchfork and Spin, and was named number 38 on Rolling Stone magazines Top 50 Albums of 2008. Also on the bill are the Givers and Pepper Rabbit. For tickets and more info, point your browser to www.gunbun.com/rrr.

Mondo American Beer Garden will have Brian Ruff and Chad Leeburg on Saturday, Jan. 22, kicking off at 7 p.m.

Landmark Vineyards will have Laurent Fourgo in the tasting room on Saturday, Jan. 22, for a 1 p.m. show.

Imagery Estate Winery has the Cork Pullers inside the cozy tasting room by the fireplace on Saturday, Jan. 22, unplugged, playing what leader Tim Curley describes as “Fireplace Folk+” Showtime is 1 p.m. and there is no cover.

The Plaza Bistro has the Roberta Donnay Jazz Trio tonight, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. in the back room. There is no cover for the show.

Taste of the Himalayas has the Indian grooves of Ragas to Riches on Monday, Jan. 24, at 6 p.m.

Jon Popenoe is on the road to the Lagunitas Tap Room in Petaluma on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m.

Mad and Eddie Duran wins the “venue with the oddest name” award, with an appearance at the Sticky Rice Bistro in Fairfield on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m.

One of the longest running Sonoma Valley bands is about to release a new CD, but odds are you’ve never heard of them. Astral Kitchen, who has been gigging and recording since 1991, are putting the finishing touches on their latest venture, tentatively called “Elements.” The band has quite a story, starting with the name. After jamming together all through high school, Chris Blackard, Mark Yeske and Norbert Mazari found themselves with a large, well, huge barn at the top of Trinity Road with an immense door that opened out to the stars that used to give them inspiration as they wrote songs, gazing out at the “Astral Kitchen..” The self-titled first release did well, with it’s hard rock feel and a bit of progressive vibe, and landed the band regular gigs at the clubs inside Travis Air Force Base.

1994 brought some of the band members to Colorado, but that didn’t stop Blackard, who essentially set up a Colorado and California version of the band. Soon after, one of the founding members, Mark Yeske, was to pass away from diabetes, but the band pressed on in his memory. In 2003 the band released “Dirty Things” and the disc was one of the original 100 CDs available on the upstart CDBaby internet music site. The release also brought them a West Coast tour with 135 dates.

In 2006, Diabolic Design was released, to critical acclaim, but not as successful in the distribution channels, as unlike in 2003, there were now thousands of bands on CDBaby and other online music distribution sites, and the market was saturated. “I really thought that album was some of our best work, and was a little disappointed it wasn’t more popular” said Blackard. The years that followed brought record company hassles and a feeling that a new direction was needed, so now without a record deal or a band, Blackard and Mazari found themselves in 2009 writing material for the next album, with a little different groove, stepping away from the traditional hard rock vibe they were known for. The new release has 12-string guitar tracks, flutes, mandolin and a variety of other instruments. Blackard describes the sound as “…kind of a Dave Matthews meets Yes meets Jeff Beck groove.” The recording did not come without its own wages though, with founding member Norbert Mazeri passing away this last April during the recording process, coincidentally also from diabetes. Blackard has assembled a fine group of seasoned musicians to back him on the upcoming 2011 tour, planned for this summer, including an appearance at the July 5, Sonoma farmers market. “We would love to play Sonoma more often, but it just seems that we haven’t really had the chance or the time wasn’t right or something” Blackard lamented.

We got to check out a preview track  from the new disc called “Star” and it is a bit tamer and has the groove Blackard describes about the new sound. We’re really looking forward to checking out the entire new CD. If you want to know more about the band, the tour and when you can get the latest release, hit the band website at www.astralkitchen.com and sign up for their mailing list, and if you do, you will receive a free song from the new album.

Hot 45s – Shows within a 45 minute drive from the Island

Cole Tate Band – Saturday, Jan. 22.
Peri’s – Fairfax
415-459-9910

Pat Travers and Miles Schon – Saturday, Jan. 22.
Last Day Saloon – Santa Rosa
545-2343

Santa Rosa Symphony Set Four– Saturday – Monday, Jan. 22 – 24.
Wells Fargo Center – Santa Rosa
546-3600

Vinyl – Saturday, Jan. 22.
HopMonk Tavern – Sebastopol
829-7300

Pride & Joy– Friday, Jan. 21.
Bimbo’s 365 Club – San Francisco
415-474-0365

Wonderbread 5 and Foreverland– Saturday, Jan. 22.
Bimbo’s 365 Club – San Francisco
415-474-0365

Old  97’s – Saturday, Jan. 22.
The Fillmore – San Francisco
415-346-6000

Guitar Masters – Friday, Jan. 21.
Napa Valley Opera House
226-7372

Suzanne Vega – Sunday, Jan. 23.
Napa Valley Opera House
226-7372

Shane Dwight – Friday, Jan. 21.
Biscuits & Blues – San Francisco
415-292-2583

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